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[OPIRG-EVENTS] Billy Bang's Vietnam Aftermath Band at Jazz Fest this evening
Do not miss this show...politically conscious
Ottawa International Jazz Festival, Confederation
Billy Bang's Vietnam Aftermath Band (review and
Wednesday, July 23, 2003 at 8:30 PM
Tickets $15 for a day pass...this gets you into the
NAC late night show and the late-night jam session
which takes you through to about 2 or 3 a.m.
Vietnam: The Aftermath
Billy Bang | Justin Time
After a particularly intense solo, Frank Lowe slung
his tenor saxophone over his right shoulder and looked
toward the floor. Covered by a large knit cap, Billy
Bang's tenor player held the pose throughout the
trumpet solo, seemingly unaware of the machine gun his
instinctive stance suggested he was carrying.
It was a private moment that he offered the audience,
a glimpse at the enduring distress of the accidental
soldier. The evening's performance was filled with
such moments, intermingled subtly with the feverish
music Billy Bang's band packed onto the stage of CB's
Gallery with its debut performance of Bang's latest
album, Vietnam: the Aftermath, on which he explores
the memories that continue to haunt many Vietnam vets.
Bang was offered the idea of basing an album on his
Vietnam experience by Justin Time producer,
Jean-Pierre Leduc, and, after initial shock, agreed to
go ahead with the project. The album quickly became a
flood of catharsis for Bang, who had previously
avoided his painful memories with tight-lipped silence
and years of drug and alcohol use. Ranging from
mournful hesitation to explosive force, Bang's
compositions paint a varied picture, including many
aspects of his time in Vietnam, from specific combat
maneuvers, to villages he came upon, to the sense of
loss he felt for fallen friends.
Enlisting help from five other Vietnam vets (Ted
Daniel, Frank Lowe, Ron Brown, Michael Carvin, and
Butch Morris conducting one track), as well as three
civilian musicians, Bang creates music that resonates
with the sound of the Southeast Asian scales he came
upon in Vietnam, but holds onto the funk and bebop
that he carried with him throughout. On "Tunnel Rat
(Flashlight and a 45)", Bang starts off with a plucked
Eastern melody, accompanied by Michael Carvin's
crashing cymbals, before the group jumps into a
progression of solos atop Curtis Lundy's walking bass.
Bang's solo grows quickly from spirited bop to a
rapid-fire series of sound effects, blurring the line
between Bang's interpretation of the subject and the
With "Yo! Ho Chi Minh is in the House", Bang uses a
funky vamp as the foundation from which to launch a
frantic hailstorm of notes, going as far as bouncing
his bow off the violin strings before crescendoing to
a long simulation of gunfire. This halting power is a
common link between more conventional songs like
"Saigon Phunk", with its com-fortable groove, and
freer songs like "TET Offensive". On the album and
particularly in person, the quick exhalations that
Bang blows from his violin sound as if he is running
farther inside himself, reaching for areas into which
he has pushed deeper within over the years. But in
cutting deeper into the thick of his own jungle, he
offers listeners a chance to go with him, to begin,
perhaps, to understand an experience that no one
should go through alone.
This review first appeared in the June 2002 issue of
All About Jazz: New York.
~ Matt Rand
Inspired by the liberating energy of the free-jazz
movement, Billy Bang was a key member of the dynamic
New York avant-garde scene of the '70s, and one of
violinís most adventurous exponents. Growing up in New
York Cityís Harlem district, and nicknamed after a
cartoon character, Billy Bang is still one of the more
prolific and original members of the progressive
In 1982, Bang began a ten-year association with the
incomparable Sun Ra, later relocating to Berlin in
1996, where he lived until returning to New York in
2000. Bang's hard-edged tone, soulful sense of
traditional swing and evocatively expressive style has
enhanced over two dozen albums by top names in a
variety of genres, and more than 15 recordings of his
A dazzling improviser, excellent composer, and
provocative leader, Billy Bang remains on the cutting
edge of jazz expression. Bang brings an emotionalism
and spontaneity that is unique to jazz, and his live
performances are always sure to surprise an audience.
Please read Iraq Peace Team reports at www.nowar-paix.ca
The conservation movement is a breeding ground of Communists and other subversives. We intend to clean them out, even if it means rounding up every bird watcher in the country.
--John Mitchell, US Attorney General 1969-1972, as quoted in the New Jersey Sierra Club's Newsletter, Sierra Activist, Vol. 3, No. 9 (October 1997).
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